It sounds like a joke. And it kind of is. But instead of “Two men walk into a bar ...” it’s more like “two mediocre football coaches walk off the field.”
One man makes a very dumb coaching mistake, Joseph. The other guy, O’Brien, screams something that’s caught on video and Internet lip readers are tearing their hair out to figure out what he said.
Here’s the video in question.
Any lip readers out there able to decipher what Bill O'Brien says after Vance Joseph's icing attempt fails and the Texans get 3 points before half? pic.twitter.com/MzvoHmz5Kj— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) November 5, 2018
More than a few people are convinced that O’Brien said this: “Good job Vance, you dumb fuck.”
Another possibility floated by the lip readers is: “Good job you fucking idiot.”
Watching the video again ... and again ... and again, it’s really hard to make any kind of definitive conclusion.
It’s an easy leap to make though when you consider what Joseph did right before halftime that really was a pretty dumb move.
What did Vance Joseph do?
With 22 seconds left on the clock and the Broncos facing fourth-and-9 from Houston’s 44-yard line, Joseph sent the field goal team onto the field to attempt a 62-yarder.
Sure, McManus is usually a pretty reliable kicker, and Denver is a pretty friendly environment for kickers. The NFL record for the longest field goal was a 64-yard kick by Matt Prater in 2013.
McManus missed. That left the Texans with just enough time on the clock and two timeouts to run two more plays for 20 yards, starting from the Broncos’ 48-yard line. With three seconds left Kai’mi Fairbairn kicked a 46-yard field goal to give the Texans a 16-10 lead at the half in a game they ultimately won by just two points.
Not a great example of decision-making from the Broncos head coach, but he’s pretty well established in that department.
Did O’Brien really say that?
He says that he did not.
“I was yelling at someone on our field goal unit,” O’Brien told Pro Football Talk via phone after the game. “I wouldn’t say that about another head coach.”
Joseph declined to weigh in:
Vance Joseph dismissed Bill O’Brien’s comment at end of half. “I haven’t seen it. Patrick (Smyth, PR boss) informed me something was going on but come on. I’m not concerned or focused on that.” #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) November 5, 2018
Everyone thinks they’re a lip reader, and it’s easy to spot the F-word and its many variants without actually hearing it. But that’s a word football coaches use a lot.
You’re probably not a lip reader, and without that qualification, it’s just impossible to know what exactly O’Brien said.
Now, there’s a good chance that he thought it.
Former Broncos receiver, Demaryius Thomas, acquired by the Texans last week, was certainly not surprised by the decision.
“That’s what they do over there. I ain’t a part of that no more. We like to win over here,” he told Mike Silver after the game when asked about the decision to try to the field goal.
But it was kind of a dumb move by Joseph, right?
Very much so. Inexcusably dumb.
Joseph knew as much.
“McManus has been really good for us. At the half, that’s on me,” Joseph said. “I was trying to get greedy there and get three more points.”
There’s a good chance that Broncos president and football czar John Elway agreed with the words being ascribed to O’Brien. All season, and especially over the last week, speculation about Joseph’s future with the team has been flying around, and with good reason. Elway is notoriously impatient (never mind his own terrible draft decisions), and Joseph’s 8-17 record is the worst 25 game stretch for the team since the 1960s.
You don’t change that with ill-conceived field-goal attempts.